The Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel was a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101.
The AgustaWestland AW101, initially designated as EH101, was originally developed and produced by EH Industries, which was a joint venture between the British Westland Helicopters and Italian Agusta companies; Westland merged with Agusta to form AgustaWestland in 2001. AgustaWestland held considerable interest in the export prospects of the AW101, including the prospects for an extensive overseas manufacturing consortium. On 23 July 2002, Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland announced that they had signed a 10-year agreement to jointly market, manufacture and support a medium-lift helicopter, an AW101 derivative, in the United States. At the team, the team declared that the derivative, which was designated as the US101, would be "65% American". The companies envisaged the aircraft being adopted in three major roles; U.S. Air Force combat search and rescue, U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue, and U.S. Marine Corps executive transport.
In early 2002, the Lockheed-AgustaWestland partnership sought out other firms to participate in the proposed local manufacturing effort for the US101; in particular, the team pursued Bell Helicopters, which was at that time part of another EH101 consortium, offering the type in Canada. That same year, Rolls-Royce Holdings, who manufactured the EH101's RTM322, also sought out an American partner to locally produce the engine; Rolls-Royce also envisioned integrating US-specific technology into the engine and its potential use in powering the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. By August 2002, there were reports in the media, of various US aircraft manufacturers, including Bell, Boeing and Kaman Aerospace, that were holding discussions with the consortium and may potentially be selected as a subcontractor to perform the domestic assembly of the US101. Boeing showed persistent interest in joining the US101 consortium, as well as in alternate arrangements to produce the NHIndustries NH90 helicopter.
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In February 2009, President Barack Obama asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about placing the project on hold or canceling it because of its high cost: over $13 billion for the planned 28 helicopters. In June 2009, the U.S. Navy terminated the contract after spending about $4.4 billion and taking delivery of nine VH-71s. In the aftermath of the cancellation, the delivered helicopters were sold to Canada for $164 million, where they were used as a source of spare parts for its fleet of AgustaWestland CH-149 Cormorant search-and-rescue helicopters.
Lockheed VC-71 Kestrell
The Lockheed Martin VH-71 Kestrel was a variant of the AgustaWestland AW101 (formerly the EH101) that was being manufactured to replace the United States Marine Corps' Marine One U.S. Presidential transport fleet. Originally marketed for various competitions as the US101, it was developed and manufactured in the US by a consortium headed by Lockheed Martin.
Role Executive transport helicopter
Manufacturer Lockheed Martin / AgustaWestland
Bell Helicopter (assembly)
First flight 3 July 2007 / Status Canceled
Primary user United States Marine Corps
Number built 9 (VH-71A)
Developed from AgustaWestland AW101
Capacity: 14 seated troops*
Length: 64 ft 1 in (19.53 m)
Rotor diameter: 61 ft (18.59 m)
Height: 21 ft 8¾ in (6.62 m)
Max takeoff weight: 34,392 lb (15,600 kg)
Powerplant: 3× General Electric CT7-8E turboshafts, 2,520 shp (1,879 kW) (take-off power) each
Never exceed speed: 167 knots (192 mph, 309 km/h)
Cruise speed: 150 knots (167 mph, 278 km/h)
Range: 863 mi (1,389 km)
Service ceiling: 15,010 ft (4,575 m)
Rate of climb: 2,010 ft/min (10.2 m/s)
"Marine One" is a Lockheed VC-71 Kestrell helicopter
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